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Russia stands with India, Putin assures Modi
Asserting that the close friendship with India cannot be diluted at any cost, President Vladimir Putin on Thursday said that Russia does not have any “tight” military relationship with Pakistan. Sidestepping a question on Kashmir, he said “it is up to you” to assess whether Pakistan is fuelling terrorism in the Indian state. “But no matter where the threat comes, it is unacceptable and we will always support India in its fight against terrorism,” he added.
“We strongly condemn terrorism in all its forms and manifestations and stress that there can be no justification whatsoever for any acts of terrorism, whether based upon ideological, religious, political, racial, ethnic or any other reasons,” the two countries said in the joint declaration.
India and Russia signed the much-awaited agreement on setting up of two more units of Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant (KNPP) in Tamil Nadu and decided to give a “new direction” to the Defence cooperation between the two “great powers”. The two countries also decided to hold the first tri- Services exercises, named ‘Indra-2017’, this year and start joint manufacturing of frigates, adding on to the co-production of Kamov-226 military helicopters. These decisions were taken at the wide-ranging talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin here which covered issues like terrorism and increasing trade and investment.
Addressing the media jointly with Putin after the talks, Modi said the relations between India and Russia have been unwavering, based on “mutual love, respect and strong trust”. “From culture to security, our relations have been at par... We speak in one language,” he added. He said the two leaders had decided to speed up the bilateral cooperation in all fields, for which an ‘Action Plan’ has been devised.
Putin described the talks as substantative and said the India-Russia “partnership is developing into strategic and privileged one.”
A joint declaration titled ‘A vision for the 21st Century’ issued after the Modi-Putin talks said that “the Indian-Russian special and privileged strategic partnership is a unique relationship of mutual trust between two great powers.”
It said the relationship covers all areas of cooperation, including in the spheres of political relations, security, trade and economy, military and technical field, energy, scientific, cultural and humanitarian exchanges, and foreign policy.
The relationship helps promote national interests of both countries, and contributes to the establishment of a more peaceful and just world order, the declaration said.
The document said, “We will strive to build an ‘energy bridge’ between our states and expand bilateral relations in all areas of energy cooperation, including nuclear, hydrocarbon, hydel and renewable energy sources and in improving energy efficiency.”
The growing partnership in the nuclear power sector between India and Russia has opened opportunities for developing advanced nuclear manufacturing capabilities in India in line with India’s “Make In India” initiative, the declaration said.
Talking about terrorism, Modi said the views of the two countries are similar on the problem in whichever form it exists, whether in Afghanistan, Middle East or Asia-Pacific. “India and Russia stand together on terrorism and new challenges to the security,” he said.
Referring to trade, Modi said the two countries were close to achieving the target of USD 30 billion by 2025. At present, trade between the two nations stands at USD 7.8 billion, down from USD 10 billion in 2014.
India and Russia agreed to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the aviation sector by setting up joint
ventures in the field of manufacturing, as India is set to become the third largest global aviation market by 2020.
“We acknowledge the importance of developing economic cooperation at the regional level. We will facilitate an early commencement of negotiations on a free trade agreement between the Eurasian Economic Union and India,” said a vision document issued after the Modi-Putin talks.
Modi invited Russian companies to invest in India by forming joint ventures. “In the defence sector, we have recently framed rules to precisely facilitate such partnerships,” Modi said.
Modi stuck a very personal chord with Putin when he recalled how the Russian President’s brother was among several family members who had laid down their lives for the country. “I had an opportunity to visit (the cemetery) and pay homage to those who laid down their lives for Russia…Your brother was martyred,” he said, referring to Putin’s brother Viktor who died more than 70 years ago during the siege of Leningrad.
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